12th annual ArchitecTours in virtual format scheduled for Oct.2
La Rana Canta (The Frog Sings), a single-family home in the Santa Ana Canyon in Ojai.
A Mountain Drive cabana, sited between several enormous boulders.
The Santa Barbara Islamic Center, designed in harmony with the flight patterns of the white-tailed Kite Hawk.
Casa Pequena, a 483-square-foot accessory dwelling unit in Santa Barbara.
A dining pavilion and project-based learning hub at The Thacher School in Ojai.
All will be on the 12th annual ArchitecTours sponsored by the American Institute of Architects Santa Barbara from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2.
This year’s tour, celebrating “Design Excellence,” will highlight projects that demonstrate green building, feature small efficient spaces, are built in harmony with nature, demonstrate live/work spaces that meet the needs of a 21st century workforce, spearhead solutions and meet the call for climate challenges. They’re also designed as equitable housing solutions and show other exceptional and informative work.
Participants on the tour will learn about the teams, trades, processes, materials and elements that were needed to complete the finished buildings. This year’s virtual format will allow participants to tour a variety of projects at their leisure from their own homes.
“We are very excited about this year’s virtual ArchitecTours. Last year, we were very disappointed that we couldn’t hold the tour due to COVID. Last spring, when we were planning this year’s event, we debated whether to hold an in-person tour or not. But we soon realized property owners most likely wouldn’t be willing to have hundreds of people visiting their project sites on what we thought might be the heels of COVID. Given the current COVID situation, we are glad we chose the virtual experience,” said Karen Feeney, a member of the AIASB board of directors.
“With the virtual format, we will be showcasing projects the public would not be able to visit, even on an in-person tour. For example, the two Thacher projects — their new Dining Pavilion and Gates Building — are located at a private school in Ojai, and La Rana Canta, a whimsical Art Nouveau-style private residence, is located in Santa Ana Canyon in Ojai.
“Each project architect will tell the story of their project in their own, unique way, using a mix of live virtual walk-throughs, 3D camera images, photos of the building process from start to finish, etc. This should make for a very special and exciting day,” she added.
Owners of Casa Pequena are an artist and a gardener, who replaced their garage with a new cottage designed as an art studio with the flexibility to accommodate guests.
“It is a beautiful model of what can be done on a typical Santa Barbara property to add density in a sensitive way and increase housing, while preserving and enhancing the scale and character of the existing neighborhood,” said Ms. Feeney.
La Rana Canta is built around a large live oak tree that spreads its umbrella over most of the home, creating shade and cooling year round.
“Many additions and remodels took place between 1988 and 2015, but the bones of the hunting lodge remain,” said Ms. Feeney. “You see a little Bernard Maybeck influence as well.”
Full height, sliding glass panels provide views of the ocean and access to the pool area at the Mountain Drive cabana, which connects to hillside gardens and expansive mountain views.
The hillside property is studded with mature live oaks and California native plants.
“The contemporary design riffs off the main house, which has thick walls running through the building,” according to Ms. Feeney.
The Santa Barbara Islamic Center, located adjacent to the Lake Los Carneros wetlands, includes a prayer hall, library, classroom, multipurpose room, catering kitchen and restroom facilities. There is also a detached residence for visiting Imams and scholars. It is a religious building which serves the local community of Muslims in the Santa Barbara area.
Included in the tour are two buildings at The Thacher School. The Gates Building includes “robust barn-like buildings housing studios, classrooms and maker spaces designed for 21st century active learning while respecting rustic traditions of school.”
According to Ms. Feeney, the Dining Pavilion architecture merges with the landscape through a green roof and “a palette of wood and stone that connects the interior spaces with the natural world around them.
“There is indoor seating for 300 and outdoor seating for 100, and a large new green space frames amazing down-valley views,” she said.
“The self-guided tours offer a rare opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at exceptional properties that are examples of history, sustainability and creativity.”